In April 2011, my son, Micah, was diagnosed with T-cell Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 11. Over the next several years, Micah adjusted to a new “normal” filled with countless port accesses, chemo treatments, lumbar punctures, clinic visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, and blood transfusions. The weight of it all was indescribable.
During a clinic visit at Children’s Hospital, the staff enthusiastically talked about Smile-A-Mile (SAM) and encouraged Micah to consider attending summer camp. Initially, Micah was reluctant, but his doctor convinced him to go during his 2nd year on treatment. When I picked him up from camp, he talked nonstop about his new friends and all of the activities they enjoyed. He met other kids “just like him,” who had faced or were experiencing the same kinds of issues. Not only did he realize that he wasn’t alone, it also helped him see beyond his situation and to be thankful. SAM became so much more than just a camp. It was an outlet for Micah to process and cope with overwhelming circumstances. He built lifelong friendships and support systems, which have provided him with much-needed hope and encouragement. For that, we are forever grateful.
Last year was the start of an exciting new chapter for Micah. He began freshman year at the University of Alabama and walked on with the football team. While it was a dream come true for Micah, it brought many challenges and adjustments, for us both. I am overjoyed (and proud) by Micah’s confidence to dream big and his persistence in pursuing his dreams. Micah will turn 20 on September 28, and as we celebrate his birthday and reflect on his journey, we count our blessings! We are thankful for our SAM family for encouraging and supporting us along the way. In honor of Micah’s birthday, we ask our family and friends to consider donating to SAM so that it can continue giving hope to those affected by childhood cancer.